Sunday, August 22, 2010


Exciting stuff is happening at Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library! One of the things I’m most excited about is the formation of our Strategic Plan Implementation Team (yes, I failed to recognize the obvious acronym this title creates but, trust me, it was brought to my attention)! Thus, the SPIT, a really great group of staff, are going to develop a plan of action to implement our strategic plan.

As commonly happens with strategic plans, SSJCPL spent a good amount of time and effort to create a strategic plan and, when the Director who led the planning process left the organization, then just stuck the plan on the shelf. The reasons for this happening at SSJCPL are in no way an indictment of the existing staff, all of whom are eager to have a thoughtful document that can aid in our decision-making and resource allocation dilemmas.

More than anything, the plan was abandoned for two reasons. First, the departure of the previous Director left the Library without a day-to-day operations manager for several months and, more importantly, the plan is seen by staff as a product of an administration that did not have the best interest of staff at heart. Thus, for many, the plan, such as it is, lacked credibility in the eyes of many staff members.

As I contemplated how best to bring some focus and direction to our Library, this lack of credibility in our strategic plan is something I recognized and understood. Part of me leaned toward starting at the beginning and preparing a new plan altogether. I feared, though, that to do so would cause many in the organization to develop a “here we go again” mindset about the process. With that in mind, I decided the best route would be to use the existing plan but to make certain that its implementation was developed and executed entirely by the staff themselves.

Using that approach, we are lucky because our finished strategic plan really isn’t finished at all, comparatively speaking. What we have, essentially, are three goals that were selected from those presented as possibilities in the Planning for Results book. So, while we have a skeleton of a plan, the staff really will have the opportunity to flesh out what we have and to make it our own. This, I hope, will allow for the majority of staff to believe in and take pride in our plan once it is complete.

The SPIT has had our first meeting, what I called our pre-kickoff meeting. Why did I call it this? Because I only wanted our first meeting to be an opportunity for the assembled group to have the chance to brainstorm what we all hope to achieve with this plan, what obstacles we’re likely to encounter along the way, and what we all envision success relative to this project to look like. It was a very fun and revealing discussion!

And even though the work group, for purposes of efficiency, only numbers eight people, I feel very strongly that all staff need to feel welcome to participate in the project. To that end, I created a wiki where notes from each and every meeting will be posted immediately following each meeting. Staff across the county can then visit the wiki, see exactly what we talked about, what decisions were made, and then provide their own feedback directly on the wiki.

If you're at all interested in our progress (whether a member of the SSJCPL team or otherwise) please visit the wiki and review the notes from the pre-kickoff meeting (the link is on the left side of the page). If you do so, you'll see two things I heard loud and clear at the meeting. First, staff are very proud of their organization and really, really want to provide quality library service to our communities and, second, that, as happy and enthusiastic a bunch of folks that they are, there still exists a good amount of residue from the last Director. Here's to reestablishing SSJCPL as one of California's premier public libraries!

P.S. I apologize for the ads on the wiki but it is a free site, after all!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Practical Open Source Applications for Libraries

I came across this excellent presentation by Nicole Engard in my feed reader and wanted to pass it along. Nicole has put together a really comprehensive collection of OS programs here. Several of which, I will have to examine more closely as I can see a lot of potential utility in my own work.
Some of the programs that look especially interesting to me are the project management, reference statistics tracking, and web development software. If you wand a little background about open source libraries in general, take a look at Nicole's "Part 1" of this presentation:

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